It was widely expected that Raffi Torres would receive a hefty suspension for illegally checking Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg in the head on Saturday night.
But I don’t think anyone expected that the Sharks would be without the notorious agitator for the whole first half of the upcoming season.
The Sharks’ announcement of their new captains was briefly put on the back-burner Monday afternoon when the NHL’s Department of Player Safety brought the hammer down on Torres with a hefty 41-game suspension.
It is one of the longest in league history.
Appears this Torres suspension is actually 3rd-longest, behind McSorley's year-long ban in 2000 and Boston's Billy Coutu lifetime from 1927.
— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) October 5, 2015
It is also an expensive punishment, with “Torres forfeiting $440,860.29 in salary as a result.”
The video released by the Department of Player Safety goes into lengthy detail explaining what made “hard and late” hit illegal, and that the length of the suspension was both determined by the severity of the hit and Torres’ longstanding reputation when it comes to injuring opposing players. Although he is not considered a repeat offender under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, it is pointed out that Torres has been “warned, fined or suspended on nine occasions over the course of his career.”
Yes, he has a history of checking other players in the head. But the whole move on Torres’ part is still a bit bizarre. When No. 13 talked to the media during training camp, he appeared humbled by the opportunity to be able to hit the ice — no pun intended — after suffering from a plethora of knee issues and missing the entirety of the 2014-2015 campaign.
He said after contributing to a preseason victory over the Arizona Coyotes that he “didn’t realize how much I love the game until (I couldn’t) play anymore.”
Heck, the 33-year-old even won over Sharks fans at the Tank, who booed him when he joined the team during the truncated 2013 season.
Sharks head coach Peter DeBoer recognized Torres’ fight to get back to the game, even though DeBoer hasn’t been around all that long. “It’s been a long road for him,” DeBoer said. “He has put in a lot of work and a lot of frustration.”
That road all but came to a halt last Saturday the moment Torres made contact with Silfverberg’s head, and the Ducks forward crumpled into a heap on the ice.
As of Monday afternoon, the Sharks had not made a public comment on the matter. The issue could become an on-going off-ice affair, given that Torres can appeal the suspension.
Torres can appeal, don't forget. Commissioner hears first, then can go neutral. As of yet, appeal has never gone that far under new CBA.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 5, 2015
As for the product on the ice, it will be another roster without Torres up until January. Unless they cut ties with him sooner, which is also a possibility.
One thing to keep in mind – 23-man roster not due until tomorrow. #SJSharks may have options to cut bait with Torres if they choose
— Kevin Kurz (@KKurzNHL) October 5, 2015
This Sharks team is coming out of this preseason with a lot of positives — productive special teams, a tough new starting goalie, and a newly-appointed captain, just to name a few. The key now is to keep the eye on visiting the Los Angeles Kings on Wednesday with the guys they have in the dressing room, and not on another potentially Raffi-less regular season.